“My name is Max and I’m the Best Man. I’m also the Maid of Honor. So if I have a few more drinks, I might need to make another toast later.”
I held Kris’ hand under the table. This was the last question mark of the night – the only thing left that could possibly go wrong. Not that I didn’t trust Max. I just maybe didn’t trust Max’s sense of humor.
Everything else was done, and done beautifully. Kris and I were married in Montreal. Everyone came. It was June, just six months since he’d proposed. Or wait till next off-season, he’d pointed out. We picked the last Saturday, just in case the Pens went to the Cup final again. Sadly that was not to be this year. The team was out of the race in early May and everyone left feeling disappointed and sad. But they’d gotten over it big time and had chosen our wedding as a substitute celebration. Geno even came from Russia with a +2 for his parents.
Sidney and Marc were Kris’ groomsmen; Cara and Vero were my bridesmaids in emerald green. Jordan acted as ring bearer, with all the delight of the usual 5 year old who has the job. TK settled for being an usher, so we gave Taylor his spot as flower girl. I wore a strapless gown with an impressive row of buttons down the back - Kris insisted there were exactly 58 of them. He dazzled in a black tux with a red rose in the lapel.
It was my idea to share Max. Kris wanted him as Best Man. I wanted him on my side as well. So we gave him the joint task of standing up for both of us at our wedding. There were tears in his eyes when he said yes.
“For almost two years, I lived with Kris and Kahlan. I think it’s fair to say that no one knows them better than I do. And I can tell you, they are really something special. Never have two people in love had such a tough time getting together. Kris, mon ami, waited a year and half before telling Kahlan that he loved her. So shy!”
Kris squeezed my hand now, embarrassed by the attention. Everyone laughed softly.
“But Kris always knew that Kahlan was the one for him. Now Kahlan….”
Oh God, I steeled myself.
“Kahlan, she could have had anyone. In fact if you read the paper, or watch TV or have the internet, you may have seen one of the ones I’m talking about….”
Much bigger laughter. At the main table, Sidney theatrically put his head down onto his arms. Somewhere across the room I surely heard Troy groan.
“But in the end, Kahlan knew what was in her heart and she made the right choice. The only choice. Kahlan and Kris agreed to love each other, fearlessly and forever.”
A hundred people tapped their forks to their glasses at once. Max paused so Kris and I could kiss.
“Now, a best friend might worry. A lesser man might think he’d be left out when they got together. But they saw fit to honor me with the role of speaking for them both at their wedding. For that, I thank you.”
Is it over? Did we make it? I’d never been so nervous.
“For Kris and Kahlan, today means the beginning of their lives together. For everyone else, it means watch out: Max Talbot is back on the market!”
Max, looking sultry and dangerous in a black tux, was in his glory as his captive audience howled. He gave me a wink just to make sure I was still female enough to register his sexiness. I was. And I was not alone. Every woman in the place got a little faint at the idea.
“Let me conclude by saying that I wish the two of you happiness and comfort. You are my best friends. In my heart you will always be the most beautiful couple in the world…”
He didn’t stop, but I felt him slow ever so slightly…
“… I should know. I have seen you both naked.”
Jordan stood. He may have known it was coming, maybe not, but he leapt up. Sidney was right behind, followed by every single Penguins player in attendance. Geno stood next to his bewildered, seated parents. TK, Coach, Billy G – they all gave Max a standing ovation. And us, I thought. They’re applauding for us. Everyone laughed so loud that Max had to wait before he could continue. Then he raised his glass and the rest of the guests came to their feet.
“To near misses and happy endings,” Max said. “To Kahlan and Kris.”
“Five minutes,” Kris laughed.
“I can’t wait any longer!” I pleaded, putting my bag down on the scale. The airline agent wrapped a tag around the handle and hauled it away.
“When we get to the gate, you’ll know.” He wouldn’t even give up my boarding pass. I followed him through security, through the terminal. We finally reached our wing and he stopped in the middle of the aisle.
“I love you, Mrs. Letang,” he smiled uncontrollably.
“I love you, husband,” I returned the grin. It made me giddy to say it out loud.
“This is the last trip you’ll ever take with your old last name on your passport. I just wanted to make sure you remembered the new one.”
He went two gates up and made a sweeping motion with one arm: Montego Bay, Jamaica. I jumped on top of him, almost taking him to the ground. I figured everyone around us was thinking the same thing as I kissed his face off in the middle of the airport: Honeymooners.
Five days later, the doorbell rang. The doorbell to the house Kris rented for our month-long honeymoon. Ridiculous, I still thought all the time. I’m living in a dream. Then something woke me up.
“We are here!” Max bowled through the door. Sidney, Marc, Vero, Cara, Jordan and TK were hot on his heels. They must have dropped their stuff at their house – right next door – because they were all ready for the beach. Cara and Vero ran right into me, arms open.
“Mrs. Letang!” they both shouted.
“Are you still sure this is okay? I mean, we are on your honeymoon. We’re all on it,” Cara said, like she’d hide next door for a week if we wanted privacy.
“We’ve been here a week then two more after you leave. I think we can manage! Plus, I can barely walk. I need a break.” We giggled like teenagers and hugged some more. I hugged everyone. The last six months I’d been happier than I ever thought possible.
“Remember, it was all my idea,” Vero said proudly. She’d immediately thought of the plane tickets Sidney gave everyone for Christmas and suggested to Kris we use them, greatly extended, for our honeymoon. Then they could all visit.
“Someone should get married every summer!” TK said loudly, looking at Marc.
Everyone sat on the huge veranda, sipping beers and watching the sunset. First day slightly-pink sunburns showed on noses and shoulders. I went inside to get more drinks. Sidney leaned against the fridge door as I dug around.
“When I imagined your honeymoon, Kay, I wasn’t sharing you with anyone,” he said, smiling.
“Oh partycrasher. Just wait till you get married.”
The night was beautifully warm, waves rolling like background music. I sat between Kris’ legs in a lounge chair and leaned back against his chest. We stayed outside till we were nearly asleep, soaking up the heat and reveling in relaxation. Sidney dropped off first, then woke quickly and said he was going to bed. Jordan and Cara were ready too, and Marc and Vero were barely awake. Even TK was rubbing his eyes. Kris went to get them extra pillows from our spare room. I leaned on the railing, looking out over the moonlit beach.
“Happy, Tanger?” Max asked, standing just far enough away.
“Happy, Max,” I answered. And I was. I’d somehow escaped catastrophe and ended up with everything I wanted in life. Most of what I cared for in the world was in these two houses.
“And I’m happy for you,” he agreed. “Gonna get pretty lonely around here soon. Marc’s going to ask Vero to marry him before we leave here.”
I gasped then tried unsuccessfully to stifle a squeal. She’d been waiting, they’d been waiting, we’d all been waiting.
“We’ll have another epic love story to celebrate by week’s end.” Max’s smile was a little sad. I gave up pretending we cared about being appropriate and wrapped him into a big hug.
“Max, you will find her. Or now that you’re back on the market, maybe she’ll find you,” I said quietly. When he raised his head from my shoulder, the melancholy had mostly passed.
“I hope she is like you, Kay. Only a little easier to win over.” I socked him in the arm and we laughed.
Kris came back through the house, out onto the deck. He took my hand in his.
“Everybody happy?” he asked.
“Very,” Max said. “Goodnight guys.”
“Good night, Max,” we both said. Max walked inside, leaving Kris and I holding hands in the dark.
3 years ago